The days of only having one way to consume cannabis are behind us. (Flower, meet vape pen, topicals, and even marijuana tablets!) We’ve got a whole variety of methods these days, but this one is actually making an old-school comeback. Tinctures are cannabis extracts that have been diluted in a liquid form, usually sold in dropper bottles.
Before cannabis prohibition, tinctures were extremely popular. You could walk into any drug store to purchase them, with even small stores often carrying their own label of cannabis tincture. They were used for all kinds of mental and physical ailments, just as they are again today. (We can thank a real gem of a person named Harry J. Anslinger for this nearly-90-year detour from progress, but that’s another story.)
Why Use Tinctures?
Tinctures are probably the most underrated form of cannabis available. While they might not be as delicious as a brownie, or the many other edible treats in this new world of cannabis; and there’s not a ritual around it, no favorite piece to employ – cannabis tinctures also have benefits that other methods don’t offer.
1. Discreet: Taking a little liquid out of a dropper bottle is a whole lot less conspicuous than puffing on a spliff. Cannabis tinctures are a great way to medicate when in public or other situations where it’s not okay to employ other methods.
2. Careful Dosing: That little dropper is also a whole lot more adept at measuring your dose than say, “a big-ish bite of brownie.” Dropper vials allow you to measure exactly how much you want, enabling you to ingest the amount desired with clarity. Cannabis tinctures are especially great if you’re interested in microdosing.
3. Fast-Acting: Cannabis tinctures can be taken sublingually by dropping the liquid under your tongue and letting it absorb into your bloodstream. Rates vary depending on the person and tincture, but you can expect to start feeling it in 15 minutes and it will be effective for 2-3 hours. (You can also swallow the drops for an edible effect, which will kick in later.)
4. Can Double as a Topical: You can also use cannabis tinctures as a very potent topical, rubbing the liquid into your skin in small problem areas. This method can be used for pain and inflammation, skin care, and other issues; depending on the cannabinoids being employed.
5. Variety of Cannabinoids Available: In tinctures, you can often choose from a bigger variety of cannabinoids. Where it can be difficult to find even CBD flower from time-to-time, you can count on seeing a variety of CBD tinctures, and maybe other helpful cannabinoids like THCa.
6. They Can Get You High, Or Not: On a similar note to our last point, you can choose if you’d like to have a psychoactive experience based on what cannabinoids you choose. THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high, so be mindful of this when choosing your products.
How to Use Tinctures
Cannabis tinctures are a very simple method of cannabis consumption. First, decide how much you’re going to take. It’s always wise to start with a low amount, like 0.25 mL, and slowly add more until you reach the desired effect. Next, you either swallow it or let it absorb under your tongue (sublingually) to get it directly into your bloodstream.
If you swallow the cannabis tincture, it will process through your liver and take effect later. Some non-psychoactive cannabinoids seem to have a cumulative effect, with healing not being so obvious as a lack of symptoms. So be prepared if you decide to stop use because it doesn’t seem to be working anymore as the return of symptoms can be a very unpleasant surprise.
A Few More Thoughts on Cannabis Tinctures
Not every tincture is created equal. Tinctures can be made with different dilution methods that have their own strengths and weaknesses. Tinctures are technically defined as extracts diluted in alcohol, but that’s illegal in California; so you’ll find mostly MCT, vegetable glycerin, and olive oil tinctures at The Higher Path.
MCT stands for medium-chain-triglycerides, which are saturated fatty acids that come from coconut and palm oils. Because cannabinoids are fat-soluble, science suggests that using oils high in these “good fats” leads to better absorption of cannabinoids.
Other plant methods fall under vegetable glycerin, like soy, that generally don’t have as much fat but that do have a palatable taste. Olive oil is a gentle form of extraction, leaving fragile terpenes intact. Again, these can’t hold as many cannabinoids due to having less fat – but they also don’t pull a lot of chlorophyll, which leads to a better taste. (Fiddler’s Greens is a great example there.)
Is it Time to Get to Know Tinctures?
All-in-all, cannabis tinctures are a highly underrated mode of cannabis consumption. They are discreet, offer specific dosing, are fast-acting, and come in a variety of options with various strengths. Our friendly budtenders at The Higher Path will be happy to guide you to the option best suited to your needs.